Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No Prom Date #12- NEW AND IMPROVED

subtitled: Misawa is Love


subtitled: I found the Caps Lock Button

to start this new edition, I bring you a match that was thought previously to be impossible, featuring two men I usually completely loathe

1) Shane Douglas v. Justin Credible (ECW Cyberslam 98)- 5

Oh there's nothing like a good profanity laced promo in the morning. In case we forgot who the Andrew Dice Clay of the wrestling world was, here's Douglas to remind us, by seeing how many times he can say "pussy ass mother fucker" in 4 minutes. This match actually has some intensity to it, something neither guy is known for. Here's a fun game: grab a gallon of milk and chug every time someone takes a nasty shot with a kendo stick, you'll be puking in no time. This has your usual perfunctory outside interference from carpet muncher Francine and slutty slut Dawn Marie in a cat fight, as well as Jason, the Sexiest guy in a neck brace. But it also has really good punching and fun brawling that the crowd is really into. Styles is useful behind the mic not only to dish out catchphrases galore but to put over a match like this that normally people would turn the channel from. Can't really say why I liked it so much, maybe because I was programmed to despise it. Besides some with Lynn, this is my favorite Credible match.

2) Victoria (c) v. Gail Kim v. Trish Stratus v. Lita (Women's Title- Bad Blood 2004)- 4

Arguably the 4 best divas WWE ever produced, ( I said arguably, Caryn Mower, arguably.) Trish as a heel found her niche in promos, but couldn't convey it in the ring. Fans cheered her the same despite the heel fin they booked for her. Nobody really got a chance to shine, match probably went 6 minutes, that being said Victoria and Gail mixed it up quite well. These women deserve major props for coming up with innovative offense that's wholly devastating while being conducive to the women such as the Widow's Peak (which is non-stop badness) and Gails' tarantula armbar. I'm still completely bored with Lita, despite her Hardy-centric offense. I was actually in this crowd and I don't remember popping for this match but most people liked it. Sure didn't when it came to that overdrawn, overblown, overbooked and overdone main event.

3) Chuck "the Iceman" Lidell v. Vernon "Tiger" White- 5

I love to see the look on a guy's face when he thinks he's got a fight in the bag; Lidell was wearing it like an ascot before the ref even told them to fight. White's style was kind of haphazard but it was throwing Lidell off, getting caught with punches on the side of the face, kicks to the back, weird shit that was hitting at odd angles really threw him off. Loved how Rogan kept saying White's name including the nickname every time: "Vernon Tiger White is really tough, Mike. If I ever called up Vernon Tiger White to go out to dinner, i'd be like, Hey Vernon Tiger White, you want to HIT up some BK on Friday? Two fish for $3!" Lidell finally, errantly put White down with a shot designed to keep him off Lidell's ass. Still exciting despite it's sloppiness.

4) Jerry Lawler v. Tracey Smothers (Memphis Power Pro May '98)- 3

Greasy Smothers is YOUR spokesman for all things hardcore when he says this: "ECW and hardcore is what's hot and Memphis and WWF is what's not!" You tell him, Pistol! Lawler looks really bloated, as if a vein is backed up. Punches still juicy though. Smothers tries to mess with Stacy, some young thing at Lawler's side, take a number honey. You have to love Lawler in home territory where Smothers can use knucks and pull tights and still can't get the win. This was a fun sleazy way to kill 4 minutes.

5) Konnan v. Eric Young (TNA Impact on FSN, April 2005)- 2

K-dawg is dressed in his prison best. He's so damn immobile it's pretty sad. Young has good heel charisma, just singing that Canadian anthem over and over again and relishing in it's repetitive ridiculousness. He takes all these big bumps, like spinebusters and Splash Mountain bombs and just folds his body in half for Konnan's putrid old ass. He wouldn't even go into the ropes; you know it's bad when a guy won't even sit down on a sunset flip! This was pathetic, no wonder Vince never saw them as competition running this garbage. Young still has never been utilized correctly.

6) Freebirds v. Midnight Express (Finals of NWA Tag Title Tournament)- 5

I was stoked for this match but both teams were gassed after really exciting 1st round matches. Hmm, maybe i should have reviewed those. Anyways, Cornette was taken out pre-match with a "loaded" racket that had a horsehoe taped inside of it. Almost as scary as seeing Paul E. in a tank top was Jimmy Jam's headlock control section. Another problem was Midnights were supposed to be newly crowned faces and we're getting booed pretty heavily. The Birds did all they could to swing the fans and I think by the end they did the job. Loved some of the MX's tag moves, especially the trip with Eaton's vicious flying elbow. Their timing is bar none with most tag teams I've seen. Competitive and fun match but would like to see it with both teams at full strength.

7) CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio (Smackdown! 06/19/09)- 5

Some things I noticed (some are pretty apparent to everyone); Titles mean nothing unless someone with a name has them. They're being devalued same as when they are pushed: I C belt hasn't meant shit in a long time, Jericho and Rey have a feud and it's on every PPV, but at the same time, Jericho (on commentary) talks about going after World Belt. Remember when IC was good enough? JR and Jericho talk over Punk's ring entrance. Rey works over the leg (which everybody on the show did?) then goes for a wheelbarrow move? That makes as much sense as giving Perez Hilton a microphone. I hated the way Punk set himself up for the 619, granted, visually the move is cool, but technically I'm not a big fan; you have to set yourself up in a way that never happens unless you're wrestling Rey jr. Rey is holding this one together, Punk works well with him, but I do'nt think he's the optimum opponent for the straight edge superstar. Go 2 Sleep doesn't look awesome on Rey; you feel bad for him that Punk is doing such a punishing move, like you would a cute puppy or little child. Jericho interferes while being tripped up in his words from Jim Ross, okay was he supposed to save Rey or be his salvation? Which is it?

8) Dynamite Kid v. Tiger Mask II- 5

Problem I had with this match is it never left first gear; Misawa looked terribly uncomfortable in the getup and Kid was roided to the gills. Loved the snap every move had, a trademark in a Dynamite singles match and there were a couple of good spots to stand up and clap for, like Misawa missing a pescado which, I could tell, HURT REAL BAD! Then a suplex over the ropes lead to the CO finish it had. This didn't have any of the personality of a Kid-TM match or the crazy spots, like I said they never got warmed up before it ended.

9) AJ Styles/ Christopher Daniels v. Jay Lethal/ Chris Sabin (NWA Tag Titles, UWF/TNA House show Sep 06)- 6

If you go to a house show and get a match this quality, you've got your money's worth. As far as the effort and hard work put in, this was top notch. Wrestled like a TNA ppv match w/o any tables, glass, run-ins, swerves, mouse traps or any "reverse rules". AJ is such an all star- he doesn't relent on his strikes because there's only 150 people watching, he still goes full tilt against Sabin in a great armdrag exchange, similar to Sasuke-Taka from M-Pro back in '97. Sabin had the lone botched spot of the night, getting hit with a hiptoss but instead of going to the next move, he landed painfully on his neck and stared up at Daniels like a turtle on his back. Loved how the camera was so close you got to almost feel the action; Lethal's jaw seperating from AJ's pinpoint dropkick could have been your jaw had you been closer to your TV set. The champions wrestle with confidence, but you could see a little hesitance in Lethal/Sabin's performance even though they were going for big stuff. Only thing that really bothered me is after the requesite dive spot, the ref would let anyone make a cover, legal man was thrown out the window. Didn't like that. You spell the announcer's name who was doing commentary H-I-C-K. Funny thing is, felt like a big match, but nobody had to use all their top shelf stuff, they may have teased it but they didn't blow through their arsenal like most people do in every match nowadays. Definitley worth watching, by far greatest thing on this show. Certainly wasn't Kip James trying to pick up underage girls by thrusting his withered crotch at them.


subtitled: Turn that damn Caps Lock off!

Monday, June 22, 2009

ECW When Worlds Collide- 05/14/1994

1) Mikey Whipwreck v. 911 (TV Title match)- 1
2) "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka v. Kevin Sullivan- 3
3) Sandman/ Woman v. Tommy Cairo/ Peachs (Singapore Caning Match)- 2
4) Pitbull Gary Wolfe v. Tasmaniac- 3
5) Shane Douglas/ Mr. Huges/ Public Enemy v. JT Smith/ Bruise Brothers (Elimination Match)- 4
6) Sabu/ Bobby Eaton v. Terry Funk/ Arn Anderson- 6

I basically ordered this show for the main event; i've always wanted to see it and since Adam keeps bestowing upon us these wonderful $1 dvd sales, how could i not? anyways, Whipwreck comes out looking like a complete 16 year old kid who has a elven mage in his Dungeon's and Dragons game, collects fossilized bug larvae in hopes he can make his own Jurassic Park one day and still beats it to pictures of Lisa from Saved by the Bell. He has giant glowing red pimples all over his face and his TV title belt droops off his waist like a kid wearing an oversized cowboy hat. 911 does nothing but chokeslam him repeatedly along with a few of the ref's for an instant DQ in a nothing match. Next up is a semi-fun crowd brawl and for some reason Snuka is dressed like George from the Jungle. Sullivan takes delight in using every single fan-brought weapon on Snuka's hard head, including a skillet and a hammer. Superfly doesn't do a damn thing but get his ass beat until a surprise rollup at the end. The beatdown was fun for a few minutes; so wanted to see more of a match. The caning match was a joke, as was Sandman's performance. He stumbled through most of the spots and I could see Cairo, a bulging muscular dude in blue jeans getting angry. The cat fight portion was dumb but still original at that time. Peaches pinned Sandman after supposedly Cairo KO'd him with the cane, although it wasn't shown. Thank god they also didn't get the up close view of the caning afterwards when Peaches, like the sick chick she is, pulled Sandy's Hammer pants down past his surely dimpled ass and canned that too.

Next match featured two "characters" and was mainly another crowd brawl; Styles called it before it started to reassure us we wouldn't see any wrestling. They hit a few power moves in the ring, but overall pretty bored with this match. Still not sure what the Tasmaniac character was supposed to be except mid-card. This elimination or "Survivor Series" style match was unusally long and drawn out. Mostly consisted of two really long sequences where Ron Harris and JT Smith both got their right legs worked over for at least 10 mins. each. The fans were itching to riot. Huges looked like a blind ape in there; he was stumbling over his own moves, trying to throw big boots in slacks wasn't working. Smith looked best for sure, selling the hell out of that leg, taking crazy acrobatic bumps due to it not being able to hold up his weight and such. Everyone but Smith and PE were counted out all at once in a mind-numbingly stupid concept. Enemy continued the leg work but were outsmarted and rolled up one by one, wasn't like most comebacks where he actually gets some offense, Smith just moved out of the way and got rollups, so they tried to play like he was really hurt. I liked his funny looking punches too.

The main event felt most like an old style ECW match to me, surprisingly. It was sloppier than homemade tacos but inherently fun at the same time. You had Sabu doing his big jumps and high flying offense, but not completely ruining the match with fucked up spot one after the other. Funk was just crazy and went all Southern Ohio indy with the broken table piece set up on the rope for a piledriver that Eaton got driven into. Eaton was throwing all kinds of nasty uppercuts and really took to the style by climbing up into the "Eagle's Nest" with Funk and getting piledriven on what looked like the ductwork where the air conditioning comes out of. Arn was the Elmer's here though; kept the pace up, took a ton of crazy spots Sabu and Eaton tried to pull off, sold big and sold crazy for a lot of stuff like it was death. Just enjoyed the thing as a whole. After the show, Paul E. cut this tremendous promo on Funk that I've never seen or heard about but it was intense as anything I've seen promo wise in a while. This show isn't recommended but if you find it cheap, get it just for the novelty of seeing Funk trying to break a pinfall as his old ass is caught in the ring apron. You'll laugh your ass off.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

WWF at the Maple Leaf Gardens- 02/15/1987

1) SD Jones v. Ron Bass- 2
2) Sika v. Moondog Spot- 2
3) Corporal Kircshner v. Johnny K-9- 3
4) Adrian Adonis v. Roddy Piper- 4
5) Pedro Morales v. Paul Orndorff- 2
6) Harley Race v. Junkyard Dog- 4
7) Randy Savage v. Ricky Steamboat (IC Title Match)- 6
8) Hart Foundation v. Killer Bees (non Title)- 4

Okay, opening match was dreadful. Jones has some charisma and the crowd was behind him during his two brief bouts of control. Bass was a shell of his former self in Florida; if the Florida version of Ron Bass fought the WWF version of Ron Bass, he'd handily kick his ass. Both guy's body slams were really sloppy, dropping each other on their tailbone, could really have caused some injury. The match dragged at ten minutes, pace slower than my current 800 page novel, Mr. Norrell and Johnathan Strange by Susanna Clarke. Bass won with a sloppy back elbow he supposedly stole from Blackjack Mulligan. He'd be best served to return it.

Mean while, hours before his match, in a sweaty locker room, pro wrestler Sika reads a few chapters of "How to Kill a Crowd for Dummies!" Standing front facelock pulled this match into a black hole of suck-dom. Crowd was dying a slow, poison tipped Shakespeare death. Spot threw some gnarly punches, but didn't add up to much.

Cpl was sweating like he was tripping on X; Slick came out and cut a good promo, guy really had character. K-9, who recently was convicted on major drug charges, was reading from the Zybyzsko playbook of stalling. Neither guy had much to do in the ring, so i guess it was just as good a use of time. The Corp. (as Monsoon called him) still looked seriously untrained, his punches and kneedrops backyard at best, and his suplex completely unfinished. This went on way too long.

Adonis bumped like a fiend for Hot Rod here. Match had a better story and pace than their famous Mania encounter. Piper took some spray from the atomizer in the eyes and wandered into the crowd. No body plays desperate comeback like Roddy could, just a move of his right knee forward, clawing his way back into the ring would get a pop. They played up a few false finishes, but went with a DQ to keep the program hot for Mania. Jimmy Hart looked like the biker from a Village People tribute band that plays gay clubs exclusively.

Orndorff may as well have worn a postman's uniform to ringside because this was so completely mailed in. Morales, at least, was getting older and couldn't do much; even his famed left hand had lost most of it's sizzle. All in all, this was a pretty poor match. Orndorff swarmed Pedro with kicks and stomps ontop of the ring announcers table for most of it, not letting him get anything off. Would have hated working with him here.

I think Chris Farley was heavily influenced by the King Harley Race with his over the top comedy, evidence is watching Race do nasty comedy bumps out of the ring, hanged upside down and falling every which way for Dog in this brief match. He looked more like the Court Jester than the King. Dog was even laughing after each spot. These guys were just fucking around in front of the Canucks here. Same finish as Mania would have, Race catches him off guard in belly to belly.

Really psyched to see this match right before their famous Mania bout. Match was wholly different, Good back and forth armdrags etc, start then Savage starts long methodical dissection of Dragon. Ricky is so awesome at selling (like that hasn't been said a million times) the agony he puts on his face is as realistic as anything in the cartoon world of wrestling. Savage keeps dumping him outside but his comeback is red hot. Savage blades deep and then just kills himself on crazy bumps, like slingshot in the corner, looks like he's trapped in Venom's web laying up there all mangled. Finish was really great too, Steamboat goes for this spot where he tries every kind of pinfall he can think of but Savage reverses (w/ some tights action) and gets the duke. This so blew away anything else on this show, hence the high score.

Main event was okay but felt like a half effort. Bees could really move, good tags, timely tags actually, their tights were like the ass end of a bee like they were slowly trying to transform them. Anvil actually was really on, came away with some good power stuff to stop Bee's momentum while Bret came in for his token beatdown. They did the double mask gimmick where no one, especially the ref can tell who's legal except Monsoon who calls out Brunzell right away. Faces get the win to send the crowd home happy, except they couldn't have been too pleased after a very poorly performed show.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Macho Madness - The Ultimate Randy Savage Collection

Well, you can never say that I’m not dedicated. It’s now after 3AM (and will be after 4AM when I’m finished writing this) and after watching nine straight hours of wrestling, hyped up on NOS Energy Drink, I feel before I collapse out of exhaustion it’s my duty to see this through in one giant last burst of inspiration and review the entire set. We started around 6:30PM, took one break to grab food, and finished up not too long ago. It was exhilarating. Savage certainly deserved a career retrospective, and goofy, stilted hosting by Matt Striker and the lovely Maria aside, this was a nice and fitting tribute. Now, my brain, overloaded on caffeine and wrestling, isn’t working on optimum conditions and with the sheer volume of material to be looked at I’ll do my best to cover it succinctly but with the rich analytical styling you’d come to expect. Let’s snap into it!

Disc #1
1. Randy Savage vs. Rick McGraw - (Prime Time Wrestling July 9, 1985) - 4
2. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat - (Boston Garden December 7, 1985) - 5
3. Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan- (Madison Square Garden December 30, 1985) - 3
4. Randy Savage vs. Tito Santana - (Boston Garden February 8, 1986) - 3
5. Randy Savage vs. Bruno Sammartino - (Boston Garden January 3, 1987) - 4
6. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat - (WrestleMania III March 29, 1987) - 8
7. Randy Savage vs. Honky Tonk Man - (The Main Event February 5, 1988) - 4
8. Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase - (WrestleMania IV March 27, 1988) - 3
9. Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase - Steel Cage Match - (Madison Square Garden June 25, 1988) - 5

This being the first disc we watched, it’s the foggiest, also due to it being earlier stuff not strongly associated (and thus centered) with major, memorable storylines. The McGraw match, Savage’s debut in the company, would seemingly be a throwaway but actually scores decently as Randy’s a madman and abuses the hell out of Rick. There’s some nasty bumps on the floor, a prelude to the carnage he’d create in the years to come. It’s nice to see a Steamboat match that’s not the famous WrestleMania III bout. Ricky’s athletic, sells good, etc. all of the aspects that he’s known for. Savage keeps up his end of the deal but this is a house show match so they ran similar finishes all over the country and it lacks that extra spark as a result. The match versus Hogan from MSG falls to a similar fate, in terms of recommendable status, it’s the lesser of their three singles matches on the set so gets graded accordingly. They wrestled each other so many times that in their canon of work together this isn’t worth seeking out. The Tito match was a wasted opportunity, Savage fucked around a bit and didn’t seem focused, plus it was the same general structure and result of the earlier Boston match (versus Steamboat) so I docked it accordingly. The match versus Bruno is an oddity, barrel-chested Bruno is a gray-haired sight to behold, and sticks it to Savage, and its unique enough to get some bonus interest as a result. The Steamboat classic, its been discussed and analyzed to death, still spectacular, a breathtaking scene seeing two of the best in front of 90,000+ and a gem to anyone’s personal collection. The Honky Tonk Man bout was fun, it was in-front of a real hot Indianapolis crowd, in pure mechanics not the best offering, but made up for it in energy. The two DiBiase matches close out the first disc, the first, the finals of the tournament from WrestleMania IV is lackluster, both guys were gassed, etc. and I preferred the lesser known steel cage match, although even it isn’t the big blow-off match you’d hope to get between these two stellar workers.

Disc #2
1. Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase - (SummerSlam August 29, 1988) - 5
2. Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan - (WrestleMania V April 2, 1989) - 5
3. Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan - (The Main Event March 22, 1990) - 4
4. Randy Savage and Sherri vs. Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire - (WrestleMania VI April 1, 1990) - 3
5. Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior - (WrestleMania VII March 24, 1991) - 7
6. Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts - (This Tuesday in Texas December 3, 1991) - 4
7. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair - (WrestleMania VIII April 5, 1992) - 6

I reviewed the tag match in my in-depth SummerSlam ’88 review, originally scoring it a “6”, but revised it here as the match has some flaws. Savage and DiBiase carry the workload, Andre isn’t capable nor does much of note, and Hogan seems there (per usual) to mostly grab the spotlight. The meltdown of the Savage/Hogan friendship provided some quality viewing, I think I liked the feud’s build more than its payoff. The WrestleMania match lacks the punch you’d expect, Savage busts his ass, but Hogan’s on autopilot and this benefited from historical significance as its saving grace from an embarrassing score. I liked the feel of the following match better; Buster Douglas is your goofy guest enforcer, etc. but it’s also a disorganized, ultimately empty overall effort. Douglas running to the back mid-match during an extended rest hold sequence seemed to be the point where I realized nostalgia was the only thing keeping this afloat for me. The aftermath where Douglas “punches” Savage, and I use the term loosely, as the first shot was obviously a phantom blow, was laughable. The mixed tag is an eyesore, just like the disgusting blotch on Dusty’s stomach. For me it’s one of the darkest moments in WrestleMania lore. The match versus Warrior blew me away. I’ve never thought much of Warrior, as a wrestler, nor as anything else, outside of a schizophrenic douche, but this was his optimum performance, surpassing the more pimped match versus Hogan at WrestleMania a year previously. His performance is more natural, working against a great villain in Savage, and stamina-wise he was at a career best I’d imagine, going toe-to-toe with the always 100MPH Savage for 20+ minutes. I can’t think offhand of a Warrior match I’ve enjoyed more. The match versus Jake is kind of a letdown, as the feud was so hot, but they blow through the match quickly, keeping a hot pace, but finishing too fast leaving me feeling unsatisfied. The aftermath, with Roberts being ultra creepy, making Elizabeth (who’s fabulous throughout the three-disc set) beg and plead, is unsettling and great, but that doesn’t help the match’s score any. The last match, I know I’ll take some heat for, doesn’t do a ton for me. I hope I’m cognizant enough to explain my position sufficiently. My issue is Flair is best as a heel bumping around and begging off for a good guy. Here, he’s in control almost exclusively, and Savage is more subdued here than anywhere else on the set to this point, and as a result the match brews but never boils over into what should have been a molten-hot epic. The backstory was great, Flair accusing Elizabeth of having an affair, etc. but the hatred isn’t as palpable as you’d think, and the interference with Hennig, etc. just further makes things murky. Flair’s legendary timing and energy, showcased best in his NWA days, sadly isn’t displayed prominently here.

Disc #3
1. Randy Savage vs. Shawn Michaels - (European Rampage April 19, 1992) - 6
2. Randy Savage and Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels- (Worcester, MA July 22, 1992) - 5
3. Randy Savage vs. Yokozuna - (RAW February 28, 1994) - 6
4. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair - Lifeguard Match - (Bash at the Beach July 16, 1995) - 4
5. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair - (Nitro January 22, 1996) - 4
6. Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page - Falls Count Anywhere Match - (Great American Bash June 15, 1997) - 7
7. Randy Savage and Sid Vicious vs. Kevin Nash and Sting - (Bash at the Beach July 11, 1999) - 3

This disc looked really interesting on paper and delivered in large part. The first match was quite good. I figured since it wasn’t a big show the performances would be at least partially phoned-in, but they brought it for the lively European crowd, and did some great near-fall sequences, etc. The following tag match was slower-paced than most stuff on the set, but it felt right, Flair seemed confident and more relaxed here, and it was nice seeing the animosity between Bret and Shawn developing right before your eyes. I’ve been on a kick lately of trying to convince people of Yokozuna as a bit of an under appreciated super worker, he bumps big and moves great for a guy of his size, etc. I’ve never had much evidence to support my claim, only having access to some of his more well-known bouts, but this hidden TV gem is one of the true treasures of the set. Yokozuna looks great in this, keeping up with the sparkplug that is Randy Poffo, and I’d suggest this to any non-believers. The next match, from a pay-per-view that took place on a legitimate beach, is something of a curiosity but not much in terms of actual quality wrestling. Flair tries, but you’ve got wrestlers at ringside (ala a lumberjack match, but given the circumstances, adorned in hideous tie-dye shirts, thus they’re “lifeguards”) and a mass of sunburnt humanity (as well as people swimming in the ocean in the far background) that really distract and detract from this one’s impact. The TV match isn’t much more enjoyable, Flair and Savage both take respective gnarly floor bumps, but it’s the sort of rushed, lousily-scripted match that dotted the Monday Nitro landscape and left me feeling as meek as referee Pee Wee Anderson’s pee wee. The match with DDP I adore, hadn’t seen it since I watched it live back then, remembered it being hot, and it definitely still holds up. It was a crowd brawl before they were passé. The intensity is consistent, the bumps and shots brutal, and the brawl into a nearby picnic area where Savage gets hit with a potted plant, barbeque grill, and slammed through a picnic table will always have a special place in my heart. The last match of the set, wow, not a good closer; Savage looks grotesque, extremely more muscular than ever before, totally gassed out on a chemical cocktail of astronomical proportions. Sid is just awful, I mean, I keep unbiased when I review, hence “never handing over”, and tried to look at his work objectively but its just strikingly obvious how little depth and range he has. Holding Sting in a chinlock, Sid chews gum, looks around bored and uninterested, clearly doing a terribly shitty job convincing me he is, in fact, holding another man against his will in a hold. His range of expressions during sells are about as limited as his current employment prospects. Would you like fries with that?

Damn, I’ve just spent nearly twelve-hours, almost a complete, full half-day working on this gigantic Randy Savage project. I feel like I just did cocaine with Randy and Elizabeth, leading to letting Savage repeatedly drop elbows on me from off of the headboard while I railed Elizabeth from behind. That must be the lack of sleep and proper nutrition speaking. Dig it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ECW Wrestlepalooza 1995

1) Hack Meyers vs. J.T. Smith – 3
2) Big Val Puccio vs. Broad Street Bully – 0
3) The Pitbulls, Tommy Dreamer, & Cactus Jack vs. Raven, Stevie Richards, Big Dick Dudley, & Dudley Dudley (clipped) – 2
4) The Steiner Brothers & Eddie Guerrero vs. Cactus Jack, Too Cold Scorpio, & Dean Malenko – 6
5) Mikey Whipwreck vs. The Sandman (Singapore Caning Match) (clipped) – 2
6) The Gangstas vs. Public Enemy (Stretcher Match) (clipped) - NR

Recently online I found seven previously unreleased ECW shows from 1995, this is one of them. A lot of the matches are clipped, due to TV time constraints, and are rated based on what was shown. Meyers and Smith kicked things off in bland ECW 1995 style. Meyers is supposedly the “shah of ECW”. Umm, okay … not exactly sure what that means but it worked. Smith was coming back off a knee injury and looked decent. I recall a nice spinning wheel kick and a super mega fuck-up of a suicide dive that Meyers sold even though Smith totally missed him and ate concrete. The end featured intereference from a walking walrus known as Big Val Puccio and Smith picked up the win. Speaking of Puccio, his match was advertised on the DVD as against Tony Stetson. Instead, we get a 60-second schmozz with Hack Meyers interefering and the Bully running scared. Puccio laid on the mat like a beached whale. Quick! … somebody splash him with water!

The eight-man tag was clipped up but what was shown was decent. The ending was pretty much given away when Raven did a pre-match promo with Cactus telling him “I feel your pain”. Cactus turned on his team and joined up with Raven’s squad. There was some bad brawling and weapon shots but nothing decent from the clips. The six-man tag was a blast to watch. Scott Steiner just seemed to big and bulky to be in there with Scorpio and Malenko. Eddie looked great as usual and Cactus took a sick belly-to-belly on the outside of the ring. There were two major botches that prevented it from getting a better score. First, Malenko and Rick Steiner just totally fail trying to do a basic headscissor takedown. The major one though was Eddie totally botching a hurracanrana off of the Steiner’s shoulders. It was a dangerous spot to begin with because Eddie first had to climb the turnbuckles and then walk the rope and execute the move. Very risky and it didn’t pay off.

Final two bouts were clipped. Sandman and Mikey looked somewhat decent from what was shown in a match where the loser got ten lashes with a cane. Sandman lost but didn’t want to man up and take his lashes. After the referee threatened to take the title away from Sandman, he took a few lashes under duress. Afterwards, he caned the shit out of Mikey until the referee made him stop and Public Enemy came out. Wasn’t too much in the clips I could mention because there wasn’t much to mention. Finally, the Public Enemy/Gangstas match was too clipped to even score. They showed clips of table bumps and not much else. Sandman came out and the end and hit Rocco Rock with a cane and cost P.E. the match. Not too much here to recommend, but I would seek out the six-man tag.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mitsuharu Misawa: 1962-2009

Mitshuaru Misawa, a legend in the Japanese wrestling scene, and the founder and president of Pro Wrestling NOAH, was pronounced dead today after taking a back suplex during a match in Hiroshima, Japan. The match was Akitoshi Saito & Bison Smith vs. Misawa & Go Shiozaki, during which Saito gave Misawa a back suplex that knocked him unconscious. Misawa's heart stopped beating and he turned purple in the ring. He was immediately rushed to the hospital and was pronounced dead roughly an hour later at 10:10 PM. The cause of death is currently being stated as a heart attack but details are still sketchy at this point.

On a personal note, this is beyond compare with any of the untimely deaths in wrestling over the last few years. I myself was introduced to Misawa's work by watching NOAH tapes and DVDs. Misawa will truly be missed to many puro fans who admire his work and dedication. I will miss the stiff, wild matches that I've come to expect from him, especially the hard hitting battles with Kobashi and Morishima. I, and the fellow writers and fans here at NHO, will pay tribute by watching copious amounts of his work and praising it as such.

RIP Misawa

I'm terribly shocked and saddened by this news. The loss of life, of course, is tragic and heartbreaking; also, this could spell the end of Pro Wrestling NOAH who has already in '09 lost their TV deal, seen attendance dwindle, and now losing their beloved leader. I drove nine-hours from Cincinnati to Philadelphia to see Misawa when ROH brought him in back in '07. I'll pay memorial the only way I know how, here thousands of miles away, by getting together with some friends and fellow fans and watching a couple discs worth of his phenomenal work.

My first memory of Misawa was from high school, in between watching and performing our own backyard matches, acquiring and studying wrestling tapes was a major source of our time, mostly coming from large, abundant orders Brian would place with RF video. I remember cueing up a "best of" video which featured matches with his biggest rival from the early 90's, Toshiaki Kawada, a brutal, stiff kicker who had no remorse for hurting the hero in green and white. The level of dangerous moves these two did to each other was almost unfathomable to us at that time; little did we know that was a staple in the puro world of All Japan Pro Wrestling. Over the years, we'd followed Misawa, along with dozens of other Japanese wrestlers as best we could, ordering new tapes every so often, reading the dirt sheets, internet reports and so forth. NOAH was real big with me when it was formed, I used to order every big show that came out in the early days, the double cassette tape set version. We had found a new Puro fed to love and adore, and Misawa was the man behind it all.

When I think of Misawa, i undoubtedly think back to our road trip to see the legend live and in person. Back in late '07, it was announced Misawa would be making his American debut in Ring of Honor in Philadelphia. Merely being a 9 hour drive, the plans were laid to make the journey for what would surely be a once in a lifetime chance to see Misawa live and in person. I had doubts about making the trip; my wife was already 7 months pregnant with our daughter, and leaving her home alone for a day and half was something that weighed heavily on my mind. I backed out of the show, thinking staying at home would be best for her, if anything were to happen while I was away, how could i forgive myself? But, literally minutes before Brian and Didge were to leave, I got it in my head that I needed to see this show and with the blessings of my very generous wife, I made the call and got myself on the road to Philly. I had worked 14 hours that day, at both of my jobs so I was completely exhausted, not realizing how I would make it through the 9 hour drive to the show. Luckily we were all in such high spirits, our excitement carried us most of the way there. Upon hitting Friday morning Philly traffic, all of us were completely pooped, ready to nap right there in the car as I made my best sounding sick voice on the phone to my boss, getting out of work that day. Brian stretched out in the backseat from stiffness and Didge moaned about nagging injuries and having driven the whole stretch of road, with only a few stops. I was feeling it too, nearly delirious, somehow we made it in to town, and caught a glimpse of a Target store, apparently a preferable place of employment for former ECW champions, we joked. We told ourselves the first hotel we see, we're stopping. We made our way through amicable downtown traffic until Didge spotted a sign to lift our spirits: a lonly two story hotel strangely sitting on the side of the road like a dead possum. The obviously old paint job was shining so brightly though we knew this was our place: Green and White, the colors of Misawa were the same colors of this shabby motel, so we promptly stopped, payed the overpriced fee, cranked up the AC and got a good 6 hours of sleep.

We killed time around Philly waiting for the show, going to the local supermarket for some various colored streamers to throw at the Japanese competitors, eating at overpriced and underflavored sports bar, Chickie & Pete's and driving through the scenic neighborhood around the arena. I won't go into detail on the show as a whole, as the real reason we were there was to watch a legend; his famous music hit, green and white banners were staged at the entranceway and lights and streamers were shooting everywhere as the weary, battle-tested warrior came down the aisle with that pompous-looking jacket. He barely made any kind of expression, as per usual, but his work that night was as solid as ever, going to a 30 minute broadway in a tag match. He got a standing ovation afterwards, as did all the competitors and it felt like he was a little embarrassed by such a reception. On his exit out, we decided to give him our thanks with a heartfelt backslap, hard and stiff on the shoulder; he barely noticed it but we won't ever forget it. We remarked that night at a wonderful diner about the experience and I'm terribly glad I went and got to see this legend in person because now that opportunity won't ever come again.

His death is sad, and unfortunate, many people are saying he got to die in the middle of the ring, doing what he loved most in the world, and while it is poetic and quite possibly a much better demise than what could have ultimately befallen such a great man, I won't really comment on my feelings towards how he left this earth because we wouldn't really know if that is how he would have wanted it to end. I know all the wrestlers there, the crew, fans in the arena especially were bear witness to a horrible sight, a deeply sad one and I feel for them having to have seen it. I know fans around the world are also affected by Misawa's death; he was always seen as a tougher than nails guy, a great technician, and a hero, champion babyface for his whole extensive career. I am very saddened, as most are in the wrestling community by such an incident and my prayers go out to his friends and family.

I also think this an appropriate time to make a comment, hopefully this isn't taken in a negative light, but I see this as a clear message as well to some competitors out there. Misawa was nearly 48 years old, had a long, storied career where he had taken countless brutal moves onto his neck, head, and shoulder areas just as the final one he took on Friday night. While it's not scientifically proven this same thing could happen to every other wrestler who's getting up there in age, it's a sure possibility. The first guy that comes to mind to me is Kenta Kobashi, who has just survived removing a brain tumor and who's knees are completely shot, among countless other injuries. Not to mention the innumerable devastating moves he's suffered to those same areas over the years. I really think some men need to call it a career and not risk something this tragic befalling them. As much as me, just like every other die hard wrestling fan out there, loves to watch these great performers still go out there and do what they do best, I would rather not see this happen to another beloved performer, or any performer for that matter.

rest in peace, misawa, mitsuharu. You will be missed.

AUDIO: ROH Take No Prisoners '09

Click here to listen to Brian, Adam, and freelance contributor Didge's thoughts on last night's ROH Take No Prisoners '09 pay-per-view event. Listen on as they discuss matches coming off more flaccid than Cary Silken, Austin Aries' embracing of being a prick, and the show's good, bad, and ugly Albright!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AAA on Galavision 5/30/09

1. Fabi Apache, Octagoncito, and Pimpinela Escarlata vs. Decnnis, Mari Apache, and Mini Abismo Negro - 3
2. Crazy Boy and Super Fly vs. Jack Evans and Teddy Hart - 3
3. Killer Clown, Psycho Clown, and Zombie Clown vs. La Parka Jr., Marco Corleone, and Vampiro - 2
4. Charly Manson and Cibernetico vs. Joe Lider and Ozz- 3
5. Mesias vs. Dark Ozz - 2

First match in we've got ladies, dwarfs, and cross-dressers? Lucha is all about timing, this was a fun opener, and ran relatively smoothly save for some minor things like Decnnis waiting on the outside blankly for a Escarlata dive, etc. Pimpinela's kiss-based offense wasn't doing much for me, but, her/his open-hand slap to Decnnis' chest did. Octagoncito can fly, hit a tremendous springboard spinning plancha to the floor, etc. Why is Mini Abismo one of the tallest of six competitors?

Crazy Boy's slamming entrance song and bikini-clad second had me hot-stepping around my living room. I've noticed they've artificially added in sound effects, whenever there's a kick or a chop, it sounds like two pieces of lumber slapping together--this is incredibly distracting and annoying. They're using a heel ref which has been done to death. This seems like mostly a slapdash collection of moves by Hart and Evans and not much else. Crazy Boy does sell the damage pretty well, though. Hart uses Evans' foot to catapult him into the air for an aerial spot, Jack lands ass-first on a legdrop as a result. Evans does a tasty springboard from the second buckle into a moonsault dropkick over the ropes onto Super Fly out on the apron. Hart does a crazy corkscrew from the top and lands on his tailbone compacting his spine, moments later its forgotten as he erases it from my memory by doing a sick move where he basically does a powerbomb but at the last moment drops down to his back and sticks his knees up so you land onto them--ouch.

Corleone is Mark Jindrak, he and Vampiro have both neither improved, Marco's still got a nice dropkick but their selling is sluggish and awkward and this just isn't much good. La Parka, Jr. looks the worst of all--I don't know if he was heavily medicated or what, but, nobody should be that slow in a lucha six-man tag. The clown collective is sort of great, at least the concept and costumes, I'm especially digging Zombie Clown. This match never gets out of first gear and should be towed for illegally parking in the "acceptable wrestling" zone.

Cibernetico starts by selling a single Ozz punch for a half-minute. Really? Later, not to be outdone, Lider sells simultaneous kicks by Manson and Cibernetico by making a face like a repulsed guest hearing an offensive joke at an elegant dinner party. Charly pulls off the Manson impersonation quite well, although clearly he never did "booger sugar" with Rose McGowan and then fucked in a suite in the Hotel Sorbonne in Paris like I imagine the real one did. Ozz could have fit in with the Mortis/Wrath/Glacier group--he rocks a purple chestplate that's so Mighty Morphin Power Rangers I'm surprised Saban Entertainment isn't taking them to court. Lider sells Manson's finishing submission like someone just stuffed a habanero pepper in his pee hole; afterward, Charly starts gyrating and convulsing in the ring and I'm suddenly wondering if this isn't some sort of bad dream?

My listings had Electro Shock as Mesias' opponent but it's actually Dark Ozz who looks like the prototype of a Robert Rodriguez brainstorm about zombie cowboys. Mesias gets knocked into the crowd and I thought I heard someone yell, "Guau usted es un hombre feo que apesta de la desesperación", or, something about him reeking of desperation. Mesias plays to the crowd like he was Sting or Hogan, but, works like he's Buddy Lee Parker.

WWE Extreme Rules 2009

Let’s see if I can make sense of this pay-per-view before my head explodes.

1. Kofi Kingston vs. M.V.P. vs. William Regal vs. Matt Hardy – 3 – On paper, this match looked fine. However, matches aren’t fought on paper, they’re fought in the ring and that’s what led to its downfall rather quickly. The spots seemed awkward and MVP botching the easy part of the tower of doom was pretty embarrasing. The finish felt rushed as Kofi hit Regal with a big kick and pinned him out of nowhere with no build up. Bad way to start.

2. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho (No Holds Barred Match) – 6 – Excellent match. I would go so far as to say one of the top five WWE matches of this year. Mysterio caught Jericho with a 6-1-9 while Jericho was facing the wrong way. It was a nice move but absolutely nobody picked up on it. Same thing with the 6-1-9 on the corner post. Jericho was in ultra-heel mode as he cut a promo starting at the merch stand and going through the crowd while randomly telling people “Don’t touch me.” Rey did a nice facebuster with a chair, just like Sabu used to do only better. Rey was busting out some old lucha moves that haven’t been seen in a long time. I thought the finish was amazing, with Jericho grabbing the mask in the midst of the 6-1-9 and immediately pinning him. Wonderful … just wonderful.

3. C.M. Punk vs. Umaga (Samoan Strap Match) – 4 – The object of this match was to touch all four top turnbuckles in succession to win. In order to help the average home viewer keep track, there was a very annoying graphic in the top right of the screen that wasn’t properly timed at all. The action in the ring was fine but they didn’t seem to click like they did the month prior. The strap was also a big hinderance and really got in the way of what could’ve been a very good match. Punk hoisted Umaga into the GTS for the win. Umaga got released the day after. Maybe he can finally put that Samoan Bulldozer moniker to good use and clear some trees for the new shopping center in Samoa.

4. Jack Swagger vs. Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian (Triple Threat Hardcore Match) – 4 – Another average match. It seems like the only people who’ve gone balls out on this show have been Rey and Jericho. This felt a lot like an Attitude-era hardcore match with some of the most random weapons available. Christian has really turned up his game since returning in February and him and Swagger have had some good matches, including one from early spring that is a MOTY candidate. ECW right now is one of the best wrestling shows on TV. The mix of the veterans with the young guys, plus the Hart Dynasty has really turned that show around. Dreamer looked good here and the story was that he had to win the ECW title or retire. He hit a nice somersault senton trash can shot and had some hard bumps. The weapon shots were mediocre, especially the crutch shot that Dreamer used to finish off Swagger and win the title.

5. Santina Marella vs. Vickie Guerrero (Hog Pen Match) – 0 – This was ludicrous. I was watching this show in a sports bar with the rest of the NHO crew and honestly, I felt embarrassed as hell when this was on. What would the average person think if they walked in and saw this on the TV? Here’s another question, why the hell was this on pay-per-view? It’s not like people actually want to pay money for this garbage. This whole Santina/Santino schtick has run its course and it’s time to put and end to the misery. Afterwards, they do more lame backstage shit with Vickie and Chavo covered in mud? The only and, I mean, only redeeming quality was that the referee wore giant hip waders and Lawler had, as Didge put it, his “pig shit boots” on. Fuck this.

6. Randy Orton vs. Batista (Steel Cage Match) – 4 – Whenever I hear the phrase “Orton vs. Batista” most times, I cringe, because that means a match of slow Orton offense and shabby Batista moves. However, going into this with low expectations really worked because I’ll be damned if they didn’t have a better match than I thought they would. Batista was supposedly working with a torn bicep. Probably the reason this was so short. If Batista needs surgery, why did they give him the title? And why was Orton pinned so clean so fast? Legacy was convieniently forgotten about. This was just basic and a whole lot of nothing.

7. John Cena vs. The Big Show (Submission Match) – 3 – Show has become lazy and slow. Cena could have a good match with anybody but Show is just so large and bolbous that nothing Cena does against him is really believable. Plus, why would you put these two in a submission match? Cena hardly uses his submissions anymore and Show just recently developed a camel clutch type move that acutally looks pretty painful. These two have no chemsitry what-so-ever and the match was so slow and prodding you could’ve slept through it and not missed a thing. The whole jist of the bout was Cena trying to get Big Show in a submission, which he succeeded, barely. He hooked Show’s foot on the rope, which quickly came undone, and wrenched back with a crossface to make Show tap. Ew … please tell me there won’t be anymore of these borefests.

8. Jeff Hardy vs. Edge (Ladder Match) – 6 – This could be good. There are ladders all over the place, it’s like ladder overkill. Both guys get credit for coming up with new spots for this, a few examples come to mind. First, Hardy front suplexing Edge into the two little strands that hold the ladder together. Second, a rough-looking Twist of Fate in mid-air. Finally, the major bump that nearly killed both guys. They fell off a super tall ladder through a ladder bridging the ring and railing. Edge actually took the best of it as the ladder broke his fall. Hardy landed shoulder-first on the floor and probably messed up his shoulder bad. The finish was original as well, with Hardy wedging Edge into the rungs and climbing up to win the title. Good match but not memorable … WAIT … THERE’S MORE!!

9. C.M. Punk vs. Jeff Hardy – 2 – Punk cashes in!!! There was more drama in this 90 seconds than there was in almost the entire show. Hardy kicked out of one GTS and Punk kicked out of a quick roll-up. Damn, that was close. Punk gets a sloppy GTS for the win and a second World Title reign. Punk should be going heel after this … oh yeah, that’ll work just fine.

A meaningless show that I would probably rank as the worst WWE pay-per-view of the year. There wasn’t much in the way of great matches but you should seek out Mysterio/Jericho and the Ladder Match. Everything else can be skipped, lucky you. Unfortunately for me, I had to sit through this.

WEC 41

A side rant, if i may:
We here at your local blogspot, the faithful and fervolent reviewers from Never Hand Over, like the rest of the world are enthralled with the emeregence of MMA as a major force in sports and entertainment in the last 4 to 5 years, so little by little, we've been introducing MMA reviews into our lexicon of material and I'm all for it. So, to continue that tradition, I will give you my thoughts on the recent WEC show, the UFC minor league weight divisions. The basic premise of how we give our scores out, the 1-10 scale, isn't just based on the "greatest match of all time" or "the one most pimped by all your forums or other blogs out there", it's a basic recommendation of how much we want someone to see that particular fight or match. I just wanted to point out the differences from wrestling and MMA in this way.

In wrestling, a 1 min. squash from a Power Hour episode in 1990 featuring Mark Callous might garner a 1, 2, or maybe even a 3, depending on the effectiveness of the moves he did, how good he looked and how the jobbers performed. It's highly unlikely it could go any higher because in the world of wrestling, it's all about the performance and there's not a lot to be said for a 1 minute performance. In MMA, you could have a 1 min. fight or even a 30 seconds or less fight that could have a spectacular finish, be it knockout or quick submission and could garner a much higher score than it's wrestling counter part. In MMA, these guys are actually trying to win, they're not working from a script, so the quicker these guys get the job done, the better for them. So, if you have 2 big names that bang it out for 45 seconds and someone goes down hard, that has the potential to be a highly recommended fight. Just wanted to make the scoring differences clear. Onto the show!

1) Josh Grispi v. Jens Pulver- 2
2) James Krause v. Donald Cerrone- 5
3) Scott Jorgenson v. Antonio Banuleos- 7
4) Jose Aldo v. Cub Swanson- 5
5) Rolando Perez v. Seth Dikun- 3
6) Mike Campbell v. Anthony Pettis- 4
7) Mike Brown v. Urijah Faber (WEC Featherweight Title Fight)- 7

It was kind of sad to watch long time battle tested shortie Little Evil jump right into Grispi's guillotine within the first 20 seconds. He's trying to compete in a division that is way younger than him and way more diverse in training. Seems like a cool dude though; came to tears announcing his retirement as the announcer told him "you're just emotional, go home and reflect first!" That was a funny moment. Next fight was really fun on the ground as much hyped Cerrone battled first timer in WEC, Krause. I liked how Krause attacked constantly, keeping pressure on Cerrone and even landed a few good kicks but after a really great display on the ground, Cerrone gets the tap out. Fun fight while it lasted. Our next fight was a 3 round war between Jorgenson, a relentless in your face fighter against Banuelos, who looked like a daddy of 5 from the Barrio. Jorgenson is, unfortunately, easy to recognize, he has that loss of pigmentation on his skin, but nobody's laughing because dude is tough. Banuelos, even though he looked 56 and oddly like Ugly Betty's father, was quick, nimble and had great hand speed. He clocked Scotty early in 1st round and dazzled him for much of the fight. Easily won the 1st, then started gassing during the 2nd, while Jorgenson came back with some nice combos near the end, but Banuelos just kept it coming, always throwing 3 to 4 punches to Scott's 1. Final round saw the papi tire out and Jorgenson punished him, standing and on the ground, never backing up, just kept coming straight at him. Even though Jorgenson looked better at the end, I had Banuelos 29-28, as did 2 other judges for split decision in a hell of a fight.

Aldo and Cub were being pimped heavily by the announce team and Aldo did not disappoint- this fight lasted all of 3 seconds after a crazy flying knee you're more likely to see at a wild house party with a trampoline than in a MMA fight. It looked like he just flung his body at him, but the knee was right on target, instantly slicing right under Cub's eye. Time to hibernate for him as Aldo moves up in the ranks. Dikun looked like a young Conan O'Brien, tufts of red hair, tall, pale as an Irish ghost. Fight didn't go long into the first either, as he hooked a crazy triangle by jumping in the air to catch it. He held it on for a minute or so until finally cinching it in for the tap out in a cool fight. Next up had two guys who were looking for the quick finish, but strangely they kept it all ground grappling and submission holds. I was really enjoying the frenetic pace they were keeping but again, didn't make it out of the first round before an armbar got, I believe, Campbell the win.

Our main was everything you could want in a title fight. It did go the distance, all 5 championship rounds and is well worth watching. Faber cut Brown early in the 1st and kept him on defense the whole round with sick punches, crazy kicks and furious back elbows. Brown did score a takedown but didn't do anything so I gave the round to Faber. 2nd Brown kept the energetic stoner grounded and did some nice punching from the top, but Faber wiggled as much as he could. It was a fun round, but Brown controlled the majority of it, so 10-9 for him there. 3rd round was kept mostly standing, but Faber couldn't use his hands, obviously hurt them in the 1st, as Ken Flo brilliantly pointed out in commentary. That being said, guy was doing great things with his elbows and avoiding the takedowns, even getting on top of Brown, who had never been taken down in his career. Faber got the better of a close round in my eyes. 4th was the gutcheck round, not a lot happened, fatigue was majorly setting in for both fighters. Faber's hands were really useless and wasn't doing much standing, Brown was finding his rhythm though with punches and landed some doozies. Had to go with Brown there. And 5th and final round the action picked back up as Faber and Brown had several really crazy exchanges on the feet, Faber got the better position at one point on the ground, trying a half-ass choke, but I believe Brown cinched the victory with a solid Matt Huges style bodyslam near the end of the round then riding Faber like a Penny Pony at your local IGA. All in all, had it 48-47 Brown to retain the belt in a stellar main event.

Monday, June 8, 2009

ROH Throwdown

1) Shane Hagadorn/ Keith Walker v. Irish Airborne- 3
2) Nigel McGuiness v. Conrad Kennedy III (Pure Title)- 4
3) Briscoe Brothers v. Colt Cabana/ Ace Steel- 3
4) Delirious v. Jimmy Rave v. Davey Richards v. Samoa Joe- 4
5) Necro Butcher v. Adam Pearce (Falls Count Anywhere)- 4
6) Homicide v. Claudio Castagnoli- 5
7) Bryan Danielson v. BJ Whitmer v. Jimmy Jacobs (ROH Title Elimination Match)- 6
8) KENTA v. Roderick Strong- 7

Dave Crist works the wrist lock with the calculation of a fine watch maker; brings me back 4 years ago when I worked an indy show with him in "Deliverance"-esque Laurel, IN where he must have rehearsed his whole opening bit a dozen or more times, like an actor practicing lines. He's no Michael Ironside, I know that. Match never got out of first gear; Hags has got to be the worst guy on the roster going on what, 4 years now? He looks completely unathletic and his selling is so unnatural and clumsy. Walker was a roided up beast though and had good timing and vicious offense. Would have liked to seen more from him. CK3 is a local Michigan indy worker, with a sagging waistline and surely a mortgage and nagging wife who just can't get enough of Jon & Kate plus 8's marital drama right now. This match is better than the opener because it has a beginning, middle and end, told simply and nothing was wasted. CK3's sharpshooter looked like a dull one, Nigel's legs limply draped around his, but he did this twisting back cracker-like move that looked nastier than that white fuzz on your balls right now. Can't say his selling will stick out to me in a year or so, even him as a performer but he was totally capable of putting on a quiet Pure Rules match here that didn't make me gag. Tower of London and it's curtains.

Unlike the opener, this tag did get out of the blocks, but the Briscoes selling don't match up with Cabana's mat tactics or Ace Steel's weirdness. Seriously, is anyone into this guy? One thing I liked is there were a lot of covers, both teams were constantly trying to win the match after a big offensive move. Briscoes really do have some awesome double teams too; but the score suffers because of some really glaring mess ups happening all throughout the end of this match; just shows tag team wrestling these days is way too choreographed, the final sequences looked like people waiting in the subway for a trian that spontaneously attacked each other. Single Jay Driller was brutal though. 4 way was fun, 4 dynamic personalities, all playing their characters to the fullest. Richards was the workhorse for sure here, and geled well with everyone. German suplex on Joe was one of the highlights for me. Joe was in 1st gear though. Finish worked too, gave someone a much needed rub w/o hurting anyone else. Rave was after the heat in this one,which was there, but wait till he found out Nana crapped in his gym bag.

So, the CZW guys interrupt intermission, so all the house lights are on for the match where they brawl through the crowd, which if you've ever been to an ROH show live, it's a scary thought. You don't want to have to look at all those fans; horrifying nightmares don't do justice to what you'll experience if you catch a glimpse of some of these freakshows. Pearce is taking full advantage of fighting Necro by laying in every punch, but he gets cut open on the back of his head. Kind of aimless brawl, nothing really of note in the crowd section. In the ring, Necro takes one of the worst ideas for a sick bump by getting side slammed on the tops of two folding chairs sitting up right. The backs are pushed together, so he has no room to spread the damage out evenly. It looked nasty. No finish here, unfortunately. Homicide and Claudio, a strange pairing, actually pull off a decent match. Homicide has always been up and down in my book, never a top performer, but occasionally does have a good match. Claudio was in full scoundrel mode, just being a bump machine for Homicide's every whim. Worked a lot better that way then if he would have tried to be the scientific European style grappler he is now. Both guys sold the other's moves really well; Homicide threw a mid-match Eddie tribute out and one hot sequence ended with his tope con hilo which is still impressive.

Double Main starts off with your usual 3 way grapple spots, everyone has a headlock and such, which at this point, is kind of lame. Whitmer is pretty bland, but really worked on his lariat so it takes off heads. Still sporting the terribly bad acne though. They tease the powerbomb from the buckle into the crowd spot, which I regrettably still haven't seen, in a really well done tease spot. Dragon and Jacobs hit an assisted Sliced Bread and it's goodbye BJ. Dragon then has his way with Jacobs for quite a while and while the little man does get some offense back, it's never apparent he'll win, so some steam lost for me there. Roddy and KENTA mark their spots on each other's bodies in a weird almost Apache way as if claiming scalps, but makes this seem destined for greatness. Chops and kicks start early, which is the selling point here, while KENTA has some fine looking rest holds, Roddy does not except his Crab, so i groan every time we have to wait on the mat for them to work up the courage to exchange strikes. Strong's back attack is such a great built-in strategy and his move set is so perfect for it. He works it hard the whole match, and KENTA is the perfect victim. Some of the most brutal kicks and chops I've heard in a long time. KENTA even gives us a NOAH apron bump, which by the time this hits the 3rd act, they are just doing big move after big move with the earlier psych they worked thrown out the window. But, i still adored it. They could have donned Care Bear tights and I'd still fear both men's moveset like death. Finish was thrown in as an afterthought so i can't put this in the upper echelon of matches, but it was still damn good and certainly worth the $1 I paid for it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

NJPW 5/3/09 - Part #1

1. Milano Collection A.T. and Taichi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and Prince Devitt - 3
A perfectly fine opener. Taguchi sold his leg tremendously, plus, I believe he had the phrase "Funky Wonton" on the back of his tights. Devitt's aerial stuff looked good as always, and, this time he didn't kill himself in the process like the last real big NJPW show.

2. Wataru Inoue, AKIRA and Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Black Tiger and Jado - 2
This one was about as satisfying as a Shane McMahon Raw main event. Jado has been around way too long to be so expressionless, he should know better. Ishii's size and intensity stuck out, but little else did, in a throwaway bout that ended in a double-countout.

3. Riki Choshu and Masahiro Chono vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Takao Omori - 4
I liked this match, it's clear Riki and Chono are both old as dirt, Chosu especially works slower than molasses, but they can still tell good stories. Chono surprised me a few times, especially with a flying shoulderblock off of the apron. Nakanishi is a tank, and it was also apparent that he and Omori had to work differently to accommodate the grandpas which led to some believability issues. Still, the subtle control changes, etc. worked in this vacuum, plus Chosu will still lean into a fucking chop like a man.

4. Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano vs. Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma - 5
Starts off as a wild brawl, then the bulk of it was made up of an extended heat segment on Honma, where Shinsuke and Toru just pummeled him. Nakamura was doing these really nasty stomps onto a fallen Tomoaki, right on his face. Honma starts bleeding, as Yano uses chairs, ring bell hammer, rope, etc. and it brings me back to his BJPW days. Makabe is a house of fire, nice clotheslines, and a killer powerslam on Nakamura. I guess Nakamura's position in the co. has dwindled a bit since I last watched regulary. Honma does a balls-out flying headbutt, but finally succumbs to a Michinoku Driver #2 by Nakamura.

5. Jushin Thunder Liger and CIMA vs. Tiger Mask and Koji Kanemoto - 2
This felt like the second match of a WWE Superstars telecast. An interesting pairing on paper, didn't translate well here, as this only went a little over ten minutes and never quite got out of first gear. I like Koji's attitude, and some of Tiger's flying looked nice and smooth, but CIMA seemed out of place and Liger was likely more concerned about that night's shrimp tempura, bento box, and geisha throat.

to be continued..

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

AWA Superclash II - 5/2/87

1) Buck Zumhoffe vs. Sheik Adnan Al-Kassie – 2
2) D.J. Peterson vs. The Super Ninja – 4
3) Madusa Miceli vs. Sherri Martel – 3
4) Curt Hennig vs. Nick Bockwinkel – 6
5) The Midnight Rockers & Ray Stevens vs. Buddy Wolfe, Doug Somers, & Kevin Kelly – 4
6) Jerry Blackwell vs. Boris Zhukov – 2
7) Jimmy Snuka & Russ Francis vs. The Terrorist & The Mercenary – 3

I’m not so sure what was so “super” about this particular clash. The voice of the AWA, Rod Trongard, is doing commentary solo for most of the show. (Tip: Play the Rod Trongard drinking game. Every time he mentions either the arena or the city they’re in, take a shot. This show will turn out better that way). The more I think about it, I think the opening bout was a giant rib. Zumhoffe and Adnan danced around each other and did very little. Sort of like a nerd fight on the playground at school … you hear that there’s going to be a fight and you get all hyped. Be when you get there and find out it’s two math nerds fighting about the correct proof of the pythagorean theorem, it just ruins your whole day. Zumhoffe and his flabby skin are an ugly sight to look at, especially when it’s the first thing on my television screen. Anyway, shoving and stalling isn’t a great way to start off what’s supposed to be one of your biggest shows all year. The Peterson/Ninja bout was not at all what I expected it to be. I thought it would be a snoozer, it ended up being the sleeper match of the show. Now, I’m not saying it’ll make you stand up and hail Peterson as the second coming of George Hackenschmidt, but it was a pleasant surprise. The Ninja played his part perfectly, that being of an evil Japanese … well, um … ninja. Peterson worked hard and I though some of his armdrags were especially crisp. The flow and rhythm of the bout was nice and solid but not so fast that you couldn’t keep up with it. Miceli was so buff going into her bout with Sherri that I was looking for the air hose that she used to pump herself up with. Ol’ Rod mentioned that she was a body builder and kickboxer. Sherri is just a great heel and the fans are all over her with loud chants of “Sherri Sucks!”. Sherri helped Madusa to a respectable match, but something that would be on the level of today’s 4-minute diva matches on TV.

Eons ago, I looked at the Hennig/Bockwinkel match for the History of the AWA DVD that WWE released, and this was the first time I’d watched it since, and honestly, it was about as I remember it. The mat-based action was very solid and had a good flow and rhythm to it. Hennig took a wild fall to the outside and banged his head on the railing. It should be noted that Larry Zbyszko was sitting ringside in a tux, awaiting a future title shot with the winner. As far as I know, this was one of Bockwinkel’s last matches in the company on a full-time basis. The key part of the finish, Zbyszko handing the roll of dimes to Hennig, wasn’t caught on camera and when Bockwinkel got pinned with the punch, I was left wondering what happened. After the match was a total schmozz with comments from everyone involved plus AWA president Stanley Blackburn. The match was good but had the finish been a bit cleaner, I would’ve given it a higher score. Buddy Wolfe looked like one of those haggard dudes you see on the news who always gets busted for drugs or is involved in a domestic dispute. His partners didn’t look much better. Somers seemed lost without his long-time partner Rose and just dawdled around the ring. You wouldn’t know that Kelly would go on to become the future Nailz and showed some glimpses of decent ring work but nothing to impress. Rockers and Stevens made a good team with Stevens just laying in some hard shots to the scruffy looking opponents. The match really had potential but just the limited work of the heels brought down the score. Blackwell and Zhukov was terrible. Blackwell was in bad shape by this point and could hardly move and Zhukov just didn’t care to be in there. Nothing to see or talk about, so we’ll just move along. The two masked marauders known as the Terrorist and Mercenary were rough, but I could clearly tell that the Terrorist was just Brian Knobbs under a mask, and clearly working to get paid. Francis, a former football player for the San Francisco 49ers, was much better in the WrestleMania 2 battle royal than he was here as his limited ring skills really shone through. The bored crowd popped a bit for Snuka’s and Francis’ offense but nothing that they really geeked out about. This was not super at all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

ECW on Sci-Fi 2/19/08

1. Kofi Kingston vs. Jason Riggs - 1
2. The Miz vs. Colin Delaney - 2
3. Stevie Richards vs. James Curtis - 2
4. Ric Flair and CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke and Shelton Benjamin -3

Opening promo was humorous. Flair putting over the importance of the HoF. Burke and Benjamin interfered. Shelton popped Ric in the mouth mid-"Wooo!" Kofi looked crisp but Riggs' selling was awful, he looked unnatural, didn't have good instincts, etc. Usually when they get enhancement talent they'll shine at making the stars look good. Miz plays a great asshole, yelling pointers at Colin as he abuses him. Delaney was a good underdog kid role, probably better served now as a regular in Chikara. Stevie was experimenting with using kicks during this period, laying it a lot of them. Curtis ate the shots, although tried to duck one clothesline and Richards re-adjusted and swung low anyway in an awkward moment. The main event was decent. My favorite moment was Burke, who earlier in the show mentioned being a Flair fan as a kid, did the patented Ric eye poke, then climbed up top, only to be tossed off ala Flair by Flair. Ric looked gross, though; I thought his knees were going to turn to dust when he did a double-axe handle from the top. Burke was good on the apron, selling pain during the figure four, etc. I think TNA should hire him, have Creed turn on Lethal, and they could form either Doom 2K9 and bring in Ron Simmons to manage, or, possibly Harlem Heat 2K9 with Booker's blessings. Shelton tried to powerbomb Punk into the turnbuckle and CM bounced off and flipped up and out of the ring wildly. I'm sure he got vengeance backstage on XBOX.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Japan G-1 Climax 1992

Return to the NWA Title Tournament

Really cool opening video plays, first shot is the NWA belt laying in a pool of $100 bills, like it was a gangsta rapper. Then we see pictures of the various titles used over the years and the strapping men that held them, Thez, Rogers, Funk, Brisco, Rhodes, -ing. Nice tribute.

1) Tony Halme v. Masa Chono- 2
2) Barry Windham v. Keiji Muto- 4
3) Scott Norton v. Bam Bam Bigelow- 3
4) Steve Austin v. Arn Anderson- 5
5) Satoshi Kojima/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan v. Koji Kanemoto/ Osamu Nishimura- 3
6) Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger- 7
7) Kensuke Sasaki v. Terry Taylor- 4
8) Rick Rude v. Shinya Hashimoto- 6
9) Steve Austin v. Keiji Muto- 5
10) Masa Chono v. Scott Norton- 3
11) Steiner Brothers v. Keiji Muto/ Kensuke Sasaki- 6
12) Kengo Kimura/ Shiro Koshinaka v. Shinya Hashimoto/ Osamu Kido- 7
13) Rick Rude v. Kensuke Sasaki- 6
14) Masa Chono v. Keiji Muto- 5
15) Rick Rude v. Masa Chono (NWA Title Match)- 7

Halme becomes Ludvig Borga, the Finnish monster in WWF in 93, here he's just a prick with a leather jacket. I hope this wasn't the opener of this particular show because it's a crowd killer. Mostly consists of Chono taking one hit and falling like Halme was a heavyweight boxer. Match drags me to Hell. Chono eventually works the arm over, and I guess you can constitute Halme as selling it well by screaming "Mother Fucker, that hurts!" over and over again. Next match was also slow paced, with armlocks, headlocks and chinlocks dominating the majority of the in ring time. The last few minutes showed what great work they were capable of, some awesome suplexes and such. Windham looked like he was carrying some babyweight but damn, could he throw a right hand. Keiji sold it like death too. Bammer and Norton was basically what I thought, 2 big dudes just bashing each other. Pace was also snail's pace but expected here. Norton got busted hardway and was juicing like a cantolope. Bigelow was taking some really cool bumps though and really busted his ass to put Norton over, just wasn't that much to it.

Loved the ring work here; smooth as Samurai Jack's Kitana. Mat work looked the best here, with some natural flow from both guys, transitioning from move to move effortlessly. Easy to see why Austin would become a big star and Arn would be a legendary figure. He and Bam Bam both take these quick back falls that look like they hit their heads and they both sell it like that. Arn takes a stun gun that looked more violent than the opening scene of Ghost Ship, if you've seen that shitty flick. Still have my buddy Steve's copy he stole from Blockbuster 6 years ago. Next tag featured 4 future stars, incl. the 2 future Heayvweight Champions on the losing end. Tenzan looked like a poor white boy trying to imitate the Fresh Prince, with tiny body, pink warmup tights and white bandage over his head. Tag match was limited in many ways, but Koji looked the most polished and not only mixed in some nice mat exchanges but got stiff on Kojima quite often. Osamu must have just come back from Somolia because he was literally skin and bones, but got the duke with a nice Liontamer. Benoit and Liger was just as awesome as I remember it. The opening stuff isn't fast paced, but done with a briskness that includes stiff shoulderblocks and rough whip in's. Also much more prefer these old type battles where they do the submission stuff pretty early on, no one taps, so they go into big spots with near falls. They infuse scientific counters in the same span of time which is simply "the balls", as Ron Burgandy would put it. I dare anyone not to mark out over Benoit's steroid-fueled powerbomb off the top rope to put Thunder down for the 3.

This match was obviously a lesson in school for young Kensuke. You could see Taylor calling out all the spots and working the pace. Match was so-so, Kensuke has always been explosive but his selling was like pushing over one of the rocks at Stonehenge. They worked some near falls at the end that didn't really get over, but Kensuke's final push, incl. the weird arm lock flip thing he won with. Spotted Dusty Rhodes & Bill Watts in the crowd; neither looked impressed. Rude= instant heat. Crowd was stir crazy over this match; Hash looked dangerous and pissed. Madusa was there as Rude got some loving from her just to incite the fans even more. Rude's selling was phenomenal; he did his hurt back routine I've seen from him before to the hilt. Hash eased it up on the kicks, but layed in a ton of stiff chops. They worked a nice match that built up to some big moves near the end. Rude hit a DDT from the top that should have killed Hash, as Dusty stood up and gave it a standing ovation in the crowd. Excellent match, afterwards, they showed a dejected Hash storming around the locker room like a horny horse looking to mate. Austin and Muto was almost identical to the Muto-Windham encounter, except all the mat work was drawn out much longer and they had a longer finishing sequence. Perfectly fine wrestling on the mat, Austin is great at selling a hold, but a little weak on applying and keeping the pressure on. Muto had wandering eyes while he was in a chinlock, like a recently divorced man visiting a college campus. Finish lacked the punch to knock it into recommendable range; just a simple moonsault while Muto was in control. This one was disappointing. Norton blew through his moveset in the first 2 minutes, so he ended up repeating it after the next five. Delivered some dangerously stiff and sloppy back suplexes that Chono didn't seem to keen on selling. Norton ate some tasty Yakuza's though; another technician versus monster match where Chono's strategy seems to be completely dead ass until near the end.

Awesome tag match here, both teams trade these dominating sequences early with the Steiners being exceptionally destructive. Rick's "Steiner-lines" were big and meaty and always above the chin. Scott was dumping the Jap heroes left and right on their heads. Kensuke seemed to improve leaps and bounds since the Taylor match, which was probably only a day or so before this one. The Steiners roughouse style suited him really well; not precisely a deep-layered story to tell, only have to worry about knocking dude's blocks off. Finish came off really well and teased that Muto had it in the bag, but a killer DDT from off Rick's shoulders was his undoing. Fans were going bonkers too. This was a g-d War! Before the bell sounds, Kido goes Terminator on Kimura and slams him down hard with an armbar. Refs, officials and other wrestlers are struggling to part them but no go. The whole match had this lingering hate resting over top the ring like that stupid ass slime shield from Ghostbusters 2. Kido and Kimura def. had the goods in delivering some respiteful attacks on each other, mostly vicious submissions, even though they were getting to the end of the pasture. And it's always fun to see Hash punish guys; he used Shiro's midsection as his kicking bag for most of the match. There were a few big schmazzes' during the match too, which is probably why I graded it even higher than normal. It was just a good old fashioned bar fight that could break out in a Japanese fuck club on any ole' Thursday night. Rude guided young rookie Kensuke to a brutal war that went damn near 20 minutes. Still giving us that bad back story, but underplayed, he unleashed tons of top shelf stuff for Kensuke to kick out of, really building him up. Some nasty superplexes, probably the most brutal on the disc were displayed here. Back and forth was good, crowd heat intense and the finish was cement for Rude as a top player; really dug this flying knee from the top he used, never once breaking out the Rude Awakening.

These two probably have some great war stories of past matches and past unmarked pills they took to kill the pain in dingy locker rooms around Japan, but this wasn't one of them. A long drawn out match that ultimately didn't put over Chono too strong. Opening was hot and the only glimmer of their younger days, with quick dropkicks and teases into the STF. Long, plodding submission devices filled up the bulk of the time allotted, with none really focusing on a certain body part of winning strategy. Chono brushed the moonsault off his shoulder like a dawg though. One sequence that had me really wincing was them trading a Yakuza kick, then a dropkick from Muto over and over, i'd say near 10 times in a row. Each time it got progessively slower and with less impact; crowd wasn't buying it. It led into a smart finish though and we're on to the main. Don't think these two had the chemistry Rude had with his earlier opponents, but he was on fire here, (yes, just like in NBA Jam; he could have hit a 3 pointer from anywhere on the court.) Rude actually controlled the match, calling out many spots noticeable to the novice camerman. Again, long chin locks and rest holds fed into the more brisk high spots near the end. Okay piledriver from Rude, off target Yakuza's, a couple botche rope spots, but the heat from the crowd was pouring into the ring. Chono then started matching each big offensive spot Rude would try and Rude escaping the STF had everyone on their feet, even Dusty who spilled his 3 soda's and 5 chilidogs in the stands. I almost thought Bill Watts died in the crowd he was so motionless. Anyways, finish was pretty clever, even if it was a flying shoulderblock but at least Rude didn't sell it like death. Satisfying main event, may have been generous with my score, but it was a historical moment and Chono's after match behavior looked genuine and thrilled. Love to see more of the G 1 climaxes, they're usually done as round robin things instead of straight tournies.